CNC machine recommendations?

I am looking for an entry level CNC machine that is under $500. Any suggestions?

I can’t be specific without knowing more about your wants and needs.
I will lead with this though. No belts, belts are fine for 3d printers and laser cutters but for cnc you need worm gears.


Take a look at Maslow CNC, but it takes up a lot of room…

I have worked on 3D printers for five years and have designed and built my own desktop CNC machine. The first thing I recommend is make your budget larger. At that price level you are sacrificing quality that you don’t want to sacrifice. Spend a little more and get a quality machine. The Maslow is the exception due to its unique movement system, but for any traditional 3 axis machine you will want to make sure you have good quality bearings that are dust protected, a reliable, variable speed spindle, and good quality motors and drivers. ACME screws are the bare minimum for precision; I would select ball screws for anything larger than about 12x12 inch table. You may also decide you need a vacuum table if you are working with large sheets and cutting through, since the vacuum table will hold the parts in place with reduced need for retaining tabs.


I assume you thinking of cutting wood.

What size project you are looking at is one of the biggest concerns. Small budgets usually translate into small work areas that translate into only small projects.

The Maslow CNC was mentioned as a possibility. Depending on your needs it can work for cutting larger things almost up to 4 x 8 feet. But you lose some quality (the ability of the machine to exactly follow your design as you get larger and larger) I had one for a while as an solution for large 4 x 8 projects but was disappointed in it’s precision. Some guys tweaked their machines to handle their needs but in-spite of custom making several parts to improve it I ended up selling it. I rely on a 4 x 4 , a 4 x 2 CNC and a Shaper Origin if the design or the piece gets larger.

I would also encourage you to expand your budget unless you can live in a very small work area with very small tooling and large cut times. However there are several small plans on the internet if your talents lean toward building one. Assuming you have a Glowforge you have the perfect tool to make a bunch of the precision parts.



Yeah… Looking for a recommendation for a friend, and I have limited understanding of, well, anything. He’s got a sizeable studio.

This may be a fools errand.

I may tell his wife to give him a chunk of cash instead.

Thanks, y’all.

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I have a Maslow… havent’ even had time to put it together yet.
Here’s what I have gleaned from other Maslow owners:
Don’t buy it if you need speed; it is very slow
Don’t buy it if you need “plug and play”; first you have to basically build it yourself, then there is a lot of trial and error getting it dialed in.
Don’t buy it if you want a conventional cnc. This thing is vertical.

However, most of the owners I talked to really liked it overall, and they say part of the appeal is being able to tweak it to your likes.


@benkeller3, the only reason I decided to buy the Maslow was BECAUSE I had the GF to help me with the tweaks… otherwise, it looks like a truly daunting task. When I get settled from this recent move, I’ll test our theory!

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What does he need it for? Wood? Metal? How big does it need to be? Simple Carving? Thin pieces? Is he handy with electronics and can assemble things? Does he have a 3D printer? Does it need to be fast? I like my MPCNC.

Having done a lot of reading on this and research he needs to start thinking over $1000 as a minimum. Watch Winston Malloy’s Moy’s videos. He can give you an idea of what to expect with a sub $2000 machine. But then you have to add on dust collection or cabinet and bits.


Here’s his channel:


Just woke up and realized I spelled his name wrong. Went to check and you made the correction.

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